A gay teenager, Danny (Jeremy Irvine) undergoes a sexual awakening in the midst of the 1969 Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village.
I had to watch this film for one of my final university assignments, due to its less than favourable reception by critics.
With its very topical subject matter, this film could have potentially taken a key event in the history of the LGBTQ community and make an interesting film which would hopefully help us to reevaluate our perspectives on the event itself.
However, what we are given is ultimately disappointing. It becomes a white boy-sexual awakening film and while the film tries it ultimately falls flat. I’m not going to banish this film to the ignominy of my Worst Films list. It was vaguely competent but didn’t quite deliver, so that’s why I’m not going to completely trash it.
Maybe I should feel more hurt about it. However, while I’m not part of the LGBTQ+ community, perhaps my thoughts about the film aren’t really valid. I feel like I shouldn’t really give Emmerich any credit – he did make the 1998 Godzilla movie after all. Seeing as Emmerich himself is part of the LGBTQ community himself as well, this surely could have been a good way of putting across things more so from their perspective, a side of the story which seems to be oft neglected in cinema.
Stonewall’s entire focus is on the narrative of the central character which is the obvious choice for any other film but it marginalizes supposed minority groups while also still shoving it down our throats that a white heterosexual family, or family structure, is the most important thing of all.
I don’t quite know what I would think about this film if I had viewed it under my own steam instead of focusing entirely on the backlash the film faced. To the film’s credit, the cinematography is good and I liked the relationship between Danny and his sister Phoebe (Joey King). The other actors as well – especially those portraying key figures such as Marsha P Johnson – were good but I don’t think the script gave them the chance to stretch their legs in regards to their roles and I feel the surface was only lightly scratched in regards to their contribution to the LGBTQ+ communities, when they choose to focus on a white fictional protagonist.
All in all, a barely competent film saved from ignominy by competent actors and interesting cinematography.
MY RATING: ** / *****